Thursday, January 9, 2014

New York's Marvelous Variety

Suppose you owned a century-old document that had been entrusted to you, but over time had become badly worn and was in need of restoration before it could be framed. How far do you think you would have to go to find someone competent to carry out this task?

Until I realized that my grandfather's naturalization certificate had deteriorated rather significantly and that I, in fact, wanted to be able to frame and display this paper as a tribute to my grandfather and father who had entrusted me with it, I never even considered whether there were people in the world who possessed the skills to restore a worn-out document.  What startled me, as a New Yorker, is that there is at least one person (and probably many others) living only two blocks away from my own apartment who makes her living as a restorer of archival materials and public documents.

And so as a lover of New York and all its marvelous variety, I wondered with a kind of joyous awe where else in the world would you have to travel only two blocks to find a person, living modestly in a rent-stabilized, ramshackle pre-war apartment building, who not only possesses the skills and the broad experience to restore documents, but who also cares deeply for antiquated things and so insists that the job be done just right.

Still another sign that sometimes there doesn't seem to be any limit to the unanticipated marvels that are available to the residents of New York City.

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